Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m not a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan.
I made the mistake of watching the film—alone—before experiencing the theatrical production or watching it in a crowded theater, which is a mistake (and frankly, no fun). So my expectations for FOX’s Rocky Horror 2016 reboot, Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, were pretty low.
Maybe it was my bleak antici-. . . pation. Maybe it was the fact that I felt like the real horror show happened the night before with the final presidential debates. But for whatever reason, I found FOX’s update to be a fun update on a cult classic. Sure, there are some awkward PC issues to deal with (will Middle America now confuse transgender actress Laverne Cox for a “transvestite?”), but overall, the two-hour movie celebrates the spirit and fandom of the original.
You can tell everyone in the cast is having a ton of fun, especially Cox. It’s nice to see her in a less dramatic role, as opposed to her darker Emmy-nominated turn on Orange is the New Black. She completely nails the voice of Tim Curry, who popularized the Dr. Frank-N-Furter role and also makes an appearance as the Criminologist Narrator in this version. Victoria Justice takes on the role of Janet, and while she gives her best Susan Sarandon, Ryan McCartan outshines her as Brad. Adam Lambert is a welcome cameo, filling the motorcycle seat of the ill-fated Eddie, who was played by Meatloaf in the 1975 film.
For devotees of the original, this version is not as gritty looking, more splashy and stylized, with an ending a little too drawn out to fill up that two-hour mark. It feels like one long music video instead of a bizarre sci-fi flick, which isn’t a bad thing. And while Rocky Horror 2016 has faced some criticism for looking like a filmed stage musical, director Kenny Ortega uses a lot of slick, interesting camera moves, as opposed to some of NBC’s productions, which just look like they stuck a camera on an on-stage turtle during a Broadway show. With Grease and now Rocky Horror, I would say FOX is seriously giving the Peacock a serious run for its money when it comes to the theatrical musicals.
Naysayers, give it a try. It’s just a jump to the left.